Looking ahead to the Aortic Forum

Konstantinos Tsagakis of the Vascular Disease Domain, Ruggero De Paulis of the Aortic Valve Task Force and Davide Pacini of the Aortic Dissection Task Force have been working behind the scenes to put together the inaugural Aortic Forum in Bologna in November. Here, Ruggero and Davide give their inside view of the event and what it has to offer.

What is the Aortic Forum and why is it important?

Ruggero. The Aortic Forum is a meeting exclusively focused on the surgical and endovascular treatment of aortic pathologies. The desire is to gather the world’s experts in aortic pathologies in a single place, with the aim of exchanging experiences and disseminating knowledge. The format includes a mix of formal presentations, live surgeries and live-in-a-box videos. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the latest techniques and discuss directly with the key opinion leaders.

What makes the Aortic Forum such a special event?

Ruggero. This is a new event within the EACTS calendar of Academy courses. It is also the first time an EACTS meeting will exclusively focus on aortic pathologies and take place in Europe. It is special because each session is shared with experts from the most renowned cardiac and thoracic associations in the US, Asia and Latin America.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s Aortic Forum?

Davide. This first ever Aortic Forum represents the cornerstone for further meetings to follow. We are hoping for a wide attendance with positive feedback from participants. It is the first time that EACTS has organised a large comprehensive meeting on all aspects of aortic surgery, targeting a wide audience that includes cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists and anaesthetists.

Ruggero. The whole task force behind this year’s Aortic Forum is looking forward to a global experience made up of theoretical principles, practical surgical solutions, problem solving attitudes and heated discussions on major controversies in the field.

How important are meetings such as this to the cardiothoracic community?

Davide. They are important because they focus on one specific topic of cardiac surgery. During a two-day meeting the Aortic Forum will concentrate four half-day sessions covering all aspects of aortic surgery, from anatomy to live surgery. It is a fantastic opportunity for full immersion into aortic surgery and confronting the most controversial aspects of surgical and endovascular therapeutic solutions.

Ruggero. The Aortic Forum is important to the cardiac surgical community because it highlights the most important areas where we should be focusing our future effort, in terms of scientific research and clinical application.

Why should surgeons attend? What will they come away with?

Davide. Live surgery. EACTS. Bologna. These three words sum up the fabulous opportunity of this meeting. The sharing of knowledge not only using conventional presentations but also live surgery, gives participants real-time experience of many challenging complex aortic procedures. Participants will actively take part in the meeting with abstract presentations. And they will acquire the necessary information for a competent decision-making process when facing a variety of aortic pathologies. Lastly, Bologna is a fascinating city with a strong background in aortic surgery. It also just received the prestigious award from UNESCO to include the Portici in the world heritage list.

Ruggero. All cardiovascular surgeons and all people with an interest in aortic pathologies should attend to get familiar with the results of the latest trials, with the industrial innovations and with the most efficient surgical approaches. Such experience will certainly benefit surgeons who are in the process of beginning their practice in major aortic surgery but also expose experts to a variety of alternatives to their standard approach, helping them in any future decision-making process.

What else should people know about the event?

Ruggero. After the difficult times we have been through, the new Aortic Forum represents an opportunity to get acquainted with colleagues from all over the world and discuss common challenges. In that spirit we wanted to involve world-renowned cardiothoracic associations from across the world and send a message of co-operation, friendship, and closeness in a common effort to educate new generations, share experience and better serve our patients.

Bursaries now available to LACES residents ahead of EACTS Annual Meeting

Over 40 bursaries are now available ahead of the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting next month in the name of the Francis Fontan Fund to residents from the Latin American Association of Cardiac and Endovascular Surgeons.  

Introduced to support the virtual attendance of LACES residents, the bursary will give successful applicants the chance to virtually attend the EACTS Annual Meeting free of charge – an invaluable source of education and learning. 

EACTS is proud to train and support those starting out in their career – particularly from developing countries – and will be delighted to welcome LACES residents to this landmark event which offers the opportunity to explore, discover and shape the future of cardiothoracic surgery. 

LACES residents wishing to apply should contact residents@latamlaces.org before October 3 for more information. 

To register directly for the Annual Meeting, please visit: eacts.org/annual-meeting

Fellowship deadlines loom

There’s no time to lose to apply for a 2022 Fellowship position.

Discover which Fellowships are available and read about Alina Gallo’s experience of the Aortic Valve Repair Fellowship below.

OPCAB/MICS CABG Fellowship 2022

Five new Fellowships, supported by Medtronic

This gives newly graduated cardiothoracic surgeons from around the world the opportunity to enhance their clinical understanding and to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge in the surgical management of patients with coronary artery disease, with special interest in off-pump and minimal invasive techniques.

Closing date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the OPCAB page on the EACTS website.

Advanced Intensive Postoperative Care in Cardiovascular Surgery Fellowship 2022

Three new Fellowships

The recipients will gain experience in the postoperative management in adult cardiovascular surgery, as well as a wide exposure to minimally invasive and other advanced techniques in cardiovascular surgery.

Closing Date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the AIPC page on the EACTS website.

MSTCVS Quality and Outcomes Fellowship 2022

One new Fellowship to visit Michigan, US

The successful candidate gets a unique, career-enhancing training opportunity in this six-month placement at one of the world’s leading centres of excellence.

Closing Date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the MSTCVS page on the EACTS website.

Alina Gallo talks about her experience of the Aortic Valve Repair Fellowship, which she completed in 2019

At what stage was your career when you applied for the AVR Fellowship in 2019?

I was a consultant at the cardiac surgery department of the Maggiore della Carità Hospital in Novara. As an independent surgeon, I already had some experience on aortic root and ascending aortic surgery. I became a specialist in cardiac surgery in 2013, and from the beginning I focused my career on the practical aspect of surgery, with the aim of becoming an independent surgeon. After training, I worked at San Donato Milanese Hospital where I had the opportunity to work with Professor Lorenzo Menicanti. That taught me that a surgeon has to be able to perform surgery in any situation and not stay safe watching others doing it, waiting for plain and easy cases. As he advised, I ‘jumped and swam’. I moved to Mirano, Veneto, where I started to perform surgery as first operator.

What was it that prompted you to apply for the Fellowship?

I was reading the EACTS newsletter and became aware of the Francis Fontan Fund. I was taken by The Aortic Root and Valve Repair Fellowship because it is the topic that I love most. I thought I must not miss the chance to apply. I won and it was such an honour that I put all myself into this amazing experience.

Did taking up the Fellowship involve any upheaval?

Not really. I asked the hospital management for a study leave for the days required to attend the Fellowship. They said yes because it was also a prestigious opportunity for them and reflected well on the hospital itself.

Overall, what was your experience of your time spent on the Fellowship?

The Fellowship is perfect for a consultant cardiac surgeon, having the right balance between theory and practice. During the two-week internship I spent in Brussels and Homburg, I tried to watch and ‘steal’ skill and expertise as much as I could. I had the unique opportunity to observe how Professor Gebrine El Khoury and Professor Hans-Joachim Schäfers, two of the most important surgeons of our time, run a department and manage complex cardiac operations. The Fellowship completely met my expectations. I would recommend it to every young surgeon who wants to learn from the experts.

What would you say have been the key things you’ve learnt about your speciality and about yourself during the Fellowship?

Cardiac disease can be addressed in many different ways depending on the expertise of the surgeon, but the difference is made by the surgeon who can offer the best-suited solution to the patient’s specific problem. Travelling around and meeting surgeons from different countries and with different educational programmes opens your mind and enriches you. There will be always something you can learn.

How has it affected the trajectory of your career?

It has allowed me to meet and talk with world-famous cardiac surgeons, and has enhanced my self-confidence. It has also influenced my career choices, helping me to leave my comfort zone and move to a centre with a higher patient volume with aortic root, ascending aorta and aortic arch pathologies. I now work at Santi Antonio e Biagio e Cesare Arrigo Hospital in Alessandria. I have good expertise in aortic root surgery and now I am improving and learning complex surgical techniques, such as the ‘frozen elephant trunk’ technique, which was one of the topics of the ‘Introduction to Aortic Surgery’ course I attended as part of the Fellowship.

What would your advice be to anybody thinking of applying for a Fellowship?

When I applied, I was a little intimidated by writing a letter of interest and asking my chief for a letter of support. I thought the best thing was to describe what my surgical career had been like to date, what I wanted to achieve, my dreams and why I really wanted to be selected: to start a programme on aortic valve repair in my department and make a difference for patients. To those considering applying, I would say that if this is the programme you’ve always dreamed of, you will be successful in applying.

 

The 35th EACTS Annual Meeting turns Spain’s second city into the heart of the cardiothoracic world in October 

The 35th EACTS Annual Meeting will take place in Barcelona from 13th – 16th October at the Centre Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB) and online, reconnecting members and other health care professionals and offering a packed programme of education and discussion – ranging from plenary sessions on the latest guidelines and clinical trials to professional challenge, focus and abstract sessions.  

This year’s Annual Meeting will be one of the first international professional healthcare events, and certainly the first large-scale meeting in cardiovascular and thoracic medicine, to convene as the world gradually opens up after the Covid-19 pandemic.  

It promises to showcase all the latest technical innovations and scientific breakthroughs that have been developed and refined during the pandemic and that will doubtless spark debate, discussion, excitement and even some controversy among cardiothoracic surgeons. 

Travel restrictions are being lifted more slowly in some countries and regions than in others, so to help as many surgeons and healthcare professionals as possible from all over the world to attend, the Annual Meeting will run in a hybrid format. This means that delegates can take part in-person at the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) or via the new EACTS virtual platform.  

EACTS Secretary General, Rafael Sádaba said: 

“I think the best way to experience the Annual Meeting is by attending in person. You get to meet your cardiothoracic colleagues from all over the world and to make those vital professional and personal connections. I also think some of scientific sessions are easier to enjoy if you are physically in the room. There are so many different sessions across the full scientific programme to look forward to that if one particular talk, debate or demonstration doesn’t appeal to you, another one that does will be just around the corner.”  

Whether people are able join physically for the full event in Barcelona or from a screen in the hospital, office or at home, the hybrid format will allow delegates to: 

  • Take advantage of the exciting opportunities that the Annual Meeting offers,  
  • Explore new scientific insights, learning about the latest innovations in cardiothoracic surgery 
  • Take part in the many stimulating debates and discussions alongside global colleagues. 

Also new for this year is the Skills Corner, which combined with the EACTS Training Village, will offer an opportunity for delegates to benefit from the skills of key opinion leaders and our industry partners as well as participate in interactive hands-on training such as wetlab, drylab and simulator sessions, all set in a professional, personalised and appropriately socially distanced training environment. 

Find the most up-to-date information on the Annual Meeting and the full scientific programme here. To learn more about EACTS and its educational activities click here 

EACTS Academy: Upcoming courses

The EACTS Academy offers advanced training programmes in surgical skills, developed in collaboration with experienced surgeons.

The EACTS Skills Programme now offers four separate modules for instruction where delegates can obtain different competencies. Each programme addresses the full range of skill levels and allows surgeons to start training at their current level of expertise.

Courses are now classified as Level 1, 2, 3 or ‘Conferences/summits’, depending on the target audience. This ensures that delegates can select the right courses at the right time in their careers. The course levels are:

Level 1
for residents in training with the course content closely allied to the EBCTS syllabus

Level 2
for residents in the final years of training and for surgeons at the beginning of independent practice

Level 3
for surgeons established in independent practice

Conferences/summits

Upcoming in 2021:

4 to 6 November, Berlin

5th EACTS Mechanical Circulatory Support Summit (Conference/summit)

Content: interactive lectures, live-in-a-box cases, keynote presentations

Audience: cardiologists, heart failure cardiologists, emergency  and ICU specialists (ECLS), cardiac surgeons, perfusionists, heart-failure nurses and VAD coordinators, medical industry  (cardiac device including ECMO development and production), paediatric cardiologists and congenital heart disease surgeons

15 to 16 November, Bologna

The Aortic Forum (Conference/summit)

Content: four half-day sessions devoted to the major areas of aortic surgery – each session features a live surgical case, invited presentations, four live-in-a-box videos and two abstract presentations related to each subject

Audience: all cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists and anaesthetists

2 to 3 December, Maastricht

Endoscopic Port-Access Mitral Valve Repair Drylab Training (Level 3)

Content: true model of endoscopic port-access set-up, allowing training in the basic technique to full complex repairs.

Audience: surgeons established in independent practice

9 to 10 December, virtual meeting

Fundamentals in Cardiac Surgery: Mitral and Tricuspid Valve (Level 1)

Content: the online version of the updated ‘Fundamentals in Cardiac Surgery’ series, being held as a virtual meeting and focusing particularly on the mitral and tricuspid valves.

Audience: residents and fellows in cardiac surgical training programmes

 

Welcome to the Lions’ Den

At the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting in Barcelona, participants will be ‘thrown into’ the Lions’ Den. It’s a highlight of the Annual Meeting where cardiothoracic surgeons get just two-minutes to present their innovative ideas and techniques to the audience and expert panel. The best presentation is awarded the Techno-Award. In 2019 Max Emmert, from Wyss Zurich at the University of Zurich and the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the German Heart Center Berlin, won the award for the LifeMatrix bioengineering platform. Here, he explains all about it.

Q: What is LifeMatrix?

LifeMatrix is a unique and proprietary bioengineering technology platform to grow tissue in the lab. The idea is to develop next-generation implants that can remodel and regenerate with the patient. We have done a lot of research to test a way forward that provides a clinical grade and off-the-shelf biomimetic implant that can be implemented as a product.

What we have now developed is a biomimetic implant, based on an extracellular matrix that is made from human cells and a specific polymer combination. The cells are then removed (decellularized), leaving behind the LifeMatrix. When implanted, it gradually transforms into living tissue. We have validated this technology in GLP translational animal studies in the context of vascular grafts and heart valves. Several other indications are in the pipeline.

Q: Why did you decide it might be a good candidate for the Lion’s Den?

I’m a cardiac surgeon and I have been with EACTS since the beginning of my career. I have always been impressed by the association, by the achievements that are made in patient care, in research and in new developments. We felt at that point that we had something pretty much validated that was an interesting thing to share with our colleagues at EACTS and present in the competition.

We were proud to be shortlisted. Then when we won the award, it was a big achievement for us as a team and a great pleasure and honor to get this positive feedback from the potential users of such a technology. All the surgeons in the room were very supportive. After that, we had multiple approaches from other people who wanted to learn more about the technology, and that was a really cool experience.

Q: How did you prepare for the pitch?

I had just two minutes to pitch. I had to bring the principal idea and problem, the way we would approach it and our solution. I had to attract the audience, tell them why I thought it would work and show them some evidence and our next challenges ahead.

This was followed by an in-depth discussion with the panel, who were physicians and people from industry who had experience in bringing products forward. It was a very colourful and diverse discussion with much good advice for our project.

Q: What is your advice for candidates pitching this year?

Be fast to bring your message across, be clear, and have good visuals to support your message. I think it’s also about how you present, so that people can really feel that you are behind your idea, that you know what you’re talking about, and you are aware of the natural challenges for your concept. Select your words carefully, as you’ve only got two minutes sharp. You need to be confident to expose yourself to the situation when the entire room is looking at you.

Also try to enjoy it, because it is a great opportunity to present yourself and to validate your work, and whether people vote for you or not, it is a way to get them interested. To the young surgeons who have great ideas I would say just walk up there and give your best.

Why we’ve realigned the Basic Science Task Force

Patrick Myers Domain Chair, Acquired Cardiac Disease

It has been a privilege to have Jan Ankersmit from the Medical University in Vienna to chair the Basic Science Task Force for some time now. He’s done a phenomenal job but had too many responsibilities at his home institution to continue chairing this task force. With Jan’s departure we took the opportunity to look again at the Basic Science Task Force and recruited a group of diverse clinicians and scientists involved in basic research to join. We also asked Juan Grau, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at The Valley Heart and Vascular Institute in the US, to chair it.

Among the initiatives that we have considered is a different way of integrating basic science with all the other areas that EACTS covers. For example, at the Annual Meeting each task force would usually develop its own focus and abstract sessions, and that would be the same for basic science. Although basic science can be very interesting for practising clinical surgeons, it’s often not hugely relevant to their practice and perhaps not as interesting to them as other content that they are able to engage with at the Annual Meeting. So that was something we had to think about – a lot of work goes into those basic science session, so how do we generate more interest? Linked to this, we have been seeing that the basic science that underpins interventional procedures such as TAVI and so on is crucial – the basic science of the valves and the bio engineering is vital to the development of new devices and treatments, and therefore important to the future of both specialties.

As a result, we have been working hard with Juan Grau to re-energise the approach to basic science. The outcome is that we have now basic science sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting that are integrated into the wider scientific programme. For example, a session on transcatheter valves will also look at the basic science of the valves and their application, what we know about them and what can we expect from them.

We have seen that our colleagues from cardiology are increasingly interested in this sort of approach and I think that many other EACTS members will also welcome it. Having taken this big step to integrate it with the wider programme, I feel basic science will now become much more visible and much more approachable to the practising surgeon, whatever their speciality.

Juan Grau, Chair, Basic Science Task Force

What does basic sciences do for cardiothoracic surgery? In general, I would summarise it as the following: it brings objectivity. The experimental method does not have a personality, it doesn’t have an agenda. Either things work or they don’t work. Your experiments are going to tell you whether you were correct in assuming that this is the mechanism or technique you thought it would be. Given the world that we live in today, that objectivity is crucial.

As a scientist and as a surgeon, clinical medicine is very clear. You do an operation, everything works well, and the patient walks out of hospital in better shape. Now how can you improve that? How can you make it less invasive, how can you make it more effective, how can you make it more streamlined? For that you will have to use the tools of basic science, meaning you will have to create an experiment, devise a method, test it, validate it and then implement it. These fundamental tenets of research and investigations are in general very healthy. It is a healthy reminder for all us clinicians to see and understand the bar that we have to meet. And we do have to meet that bar, and even exceed it, if we want our breakthrough interventions to become mainstream.

This is why we need to keep analysing the information and the science. Lately we have had significant issues with major clinical trials where the results were somewhat confusing or debatable. This happened because the statistical methods changed or some of the definitions were altered during the course of the trial. In the light of that, what an understanding of not only basic research but also statistical methodology gives you is the ability to be analytical and to have good judgement about the information that is being fed to you and what it is telling you.

So that is how I would describe basic science. It brings objectivity to medicine, which can sometimes feel as much of an art as a science, and it tells us what is really happening and why.

For me, this happens regularly. I can send specimens sent to my PhD students that I believe are putting us on the perfect path. But then they come back and tell me the specimens are not good enough. That is the beginning of objectivity, because you think you’re going to obtain particular results about particular issues and then you are told otherwise.

How many other areas of life can deliver that level of objectivity, telling you with certainty that something is wrong or not good enough and needs to be better? This is what my PhD students do regularly, they practise basic science, and it keeps me very grounded.

Examiner opportunities: Applications now open

EACTS members have an exciting opportunity to join the world-leading European Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EBCTS). EBCTS is seeking applications from EACTS members to join as examiners and support the delivery of excellent, reproducible and respected examinations.

Applicants can join as Level 1 or Level 2 examiners in Adult Cardiac, Congenital or Thoracic Surgery and all examiners will undergo professional training in assessment science, question writing, examination evaluation and examiner standards and behaviour.

Level 1 examiner opportunities offer an excellent starting point for those wishing to become involved in professional examinations by constructing questions for the MCQ Level 1 Membership examination. While Level 2 examiner opportunities offer applicants already experienced in participating in local, national or international examinations the opportunity to become involved in the oral Fellowship examinations.

More information on the qualifications required to become a Level 1 or 2 examiner can be found below.

Qualifications, skills and experience required for Level 1 examiner applicants:

  1. Must be a current member of EACTS and for the duration of their appointment as an EBCTS examiner
  2. Should be in a specialist post or within the last year of specialist training
  3. Must have successfully taken the EBCTS, American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS), FEBTCS or other recognised national specialty examination (or completed the EBCTS Level 1 exam since 2017)
  4. Should have previous examining experience (undergraduate or postgraduate) or formal assessment experience
  5. Should have teaching experience and training at undergraduate or postgraduate level
  6. Should be committed to continuing professional development and research as demonstrated by presentations and publications
  7. Should conduct themselves professionally and demonstrate a commitment to the development of the examination while showing a willingness to find time to write questions and attend training/assessment sessions.

 

Please note: these posts are for an initial duration of three years with potential for a further three years at the recommendation of EBCTS. There will be an appraisal after two years which will determine the period of continuation. Examiners will be expected to produce a minimum number of questions per annum to remain an examiner.

Qualifications, skills and experience required for Level 2 examiner applicants:

  1. Must be a current member of EACTS and for the duration of their appointment as an EBCTS Examiner
  2. Must have held a substantive and active position as a specialist for a minimum of 5 years and within the last two years for retired surgeons
  3. Must have successfully taken the EBCTS (since 2013), ABTS or other recognised national specialty examination or the previous FEBTCS / FETCVS (EACTS examination prior to 2012)
  4. Must have significant previous examining experience (undergraduate or postgraduate) or formal trainee assessment experience
  5. Must have experience in teaching and training at undergraduate or postgraduate level
  6. Should be able to demonstrate specialist knowledge in areas of interest to the European Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery
  7. Should have a commitment to continuing professional development and research as demonstrated by presentations and publications
  8. Must be able to demonstrate high professional standards, courtesy, fairness and non-discrimination by submission of a Structured Reference
  9. Should conduct themselves professionally and demonstrate a commitment to the development of the examination while honouring commitments to writing questions, attending examinations (at least every 2 years) and training/assessment sessions – by submission of a signed declaration on the application form.

 

Please note: these posts are for an initial duration of three years with a potential for a further three years at the recommendation of EBCTS. There will be an appraisal after two years which will determine the period of continuation.

 

The Chairman of the Board, Professor Stephen Clark welcomes informal enquiries and can be contacted at ebcts@eacts.co.uk.

 

Board Member Opportunity: European Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery

EACTS is currently accepting expressions of interest from qualified applicants for a Board Member position on the European Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EBCTS).

The European Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EBCTS) is committed to raising standards through assessment and is looking to recruit a new Board member to progress this work.

The EBCTS has greatly expanded its influence after a period of examination development and revision. EBCTS’ examination now comprises two distinct and high-quality components and several European countries have adopted the level 1 examination as their training exit exam, illustrating the importance and quality of EBCTS examinations.

EBCTS Board members oversee and direct the EBCTS and have a number of responsibilities, including:

  • Assisting the EBCTS Chairman in conjunction with the EACTS Council and the executive committee of the EBCTS
  • Developing and delivering EBCTS examinations
  • Working supportively and collaboratively with the EBCTS administrative team to further professionalise EBCTS
  • Contributing to developing regulations and defined processes
  • Travelling to regular EBCTS board meetings
  • Helping to disseminate the work done by the EBCTS and the outcomes of examinations
  • Participating in EBCTS Board meetings
  • Participating in EBCTS examination preparation and delivery.

 

Applicants must be EACTS members and currently practicing as an active cardiovascular or thoracic surgeon while holding an academic appointment with the following skills and experience:

  • Significant experience in training and surgical education at national or international level
  • Evidence of a strong professional reputation in the field of Cardiothoracic Surgery with a track record of working with peers in a positive, constructive and supportive manner
  • Previous involvement with the Level 1 or 2 EBCTS examinations
  • Experience of EACTS Academy involvement as a teacher (desirable).

 

Applicants are expected to complete a three-year term. Completion of the third year will be dependent on the satisfactory completion of the first two years.

Expressions of interest, including a CV and letter of motivation should be submitted to Amanda Cameron at ebcts@eacts.co.uk and Prof. Stephen Clark, Chairman of the Board at stephen.clark@nhs.uk

The new EACTS Chief Executive, in his own words

A firm foundation, and now it’s time to build…

EACTS’ new Chief Executive is Brendan Eley. He has a long track record in corporate governance and is bringing all his experience and expertise to the task of building an even brighter future for EACTS. Here, in his own words, he talks about his appointment and his immediate priorities.

“I am a lifelong voluntary sector worker with a strong background in relationships and governance. I’ve been the Chief Executive of a medical research charity for over 15 years, and that experience now finds me supporting EACTS in the same role. I’m passionate about the voluntary sector, about bringing high-quality, efficient, mission-led management, leadership and governance to good causes. I think the voluntary and public sectors demand and deserve that level of professionalism as much as anywhere else.

“I’ve been involved with EACTS now for nearly three years as a consultant. I’ve been to the Annual Meeting, I’ve attended the Council meetings and I undertook a major governance review in 2019. I thrive in organisations such as EACTS that are small in terms of structure but large in terms of breadth, reach and influence. That’s a credit to the people who work here and to the power of all the surgeons who volunteer their time to support the work of EACTS.

“You don’t need to be a cardiothoracic surgeon to be chief executive of EACTS. But you do need to know how to run an organisation, employ good governance and processes, put in place strong structures, have a clear strategy and know what is needed to achieve the agreed plan. EACTS has a firm foundation, and now it’s time to build on that and help drive the organisation forward, even further.

“I think most members and people associated with EACTS will welcome change. Post-Covid, we have to get ready for the new world, which means looking at the future of EACTS with an increasingly strategic perception. Where does the organisation want to be in the next ten years? It’s in a good position with its many members, our Annual Meeting, education programme and publications. Now we have to take all those jewels and make the most of them in a way that fits the future EACTS wants to see.

“My main priority is to look at our relationship with members and what we offer you. We need to review what we’re giving you, how we are communicating with you, and to genuinely put the members at the heart of everything that EACTS does. That will include looking at the Academy and the courses, and making sure that we are offering a compelling programme of exciting, meaningful and professional courses that remains the envy of the world.

“We have world-beating registries, courses and journals, and we need to ensure they serve the needs of surgeons in pursuit of the best outcomes for their patients. All those resources should have reach and impact, and be driven with the same self-sustaining mission of ultimately improving patient outcomes. I’m sure that every EACTS member would agree.

“We need to refocus on our relationships and partnerships with other associations. There is safety and impact in numbers. We are a global leader and I think we have a responsibility to play our part alongside all the other cardiothoracic and cardiology associations around the world.

“The power of EACTS is that we have a high-quality, committed team in Windsor and we have resources. We’re in a position where we can set out our stall for the next ten years and say, right, what are the priorities in the cardiothoracic world, what’s EACTS role? Then we need to start doing things. Such as professionalising, in the sense of reporting back to the members what our intentions are, how we’re doing it, how we’re getting on with it and what impact we’re having. We need to communicate and report on that more frequently for the membership.

“The Annual Meeting is EACTS’ crown jewel. It’s where our educational offering and our global role as a catalyst for thinking bring the key people together. It’s our shop window and we have an international reputation for this quality programme. When people come and interact with EACTS face to face and they see the excitement, the buzz, the quality, and they want to be part of that.

“A core partner for EACTS is industry. Although we want to stay true to an unfettered, unconflicted relationship, and we will never compromise on that, we know that industry is an important partner. So, looking ahead, developing, building and growing those relationships will be absolutely key for us.

“EACTS is in a position of strength, with membership growing significantly. From my perspective, I would like to see us grow the EACTS offering and membership base in other parts of the world, such as the Far East, Africa, Asia, South America. We have strong relationships there that we can build on, and I think EACTS has to get its message out there as wide as possible and to promote quality, purely with the intention of pursuing better cardiothoracic outcomes throughout the world.”